For fans, sometimes you people don't have a lot of faith. I can read the posts on the forums, you know: "Did Vinny get swatted?".
The fastest kung fu ninja doesn't have the speed of reflexes to take me by surprise. The most fearsome beehived waitress in the dingiest interstatetruck stop couldn't swing a swatter fast enough to get me. I've laid waste to the giant anteater herds of the Serengeti.
Another changing of the guard in Berea? That's nothin'. Just another set of fancypants who think they can stop Vinny the Fly from hearing what they say and enjoying the leftover doughnuts in the film room.
It's great to have football back, because the doughnuts are being carted in by the gross and my antennae are getting their fill of chatter.
Here's what's up:
* As great as it us to have a football mind like team president Mike Holmgren standing near the practice field, there's no one regretting that he brought in head coach Pat Shurmur. The new guy has exceeded all expectations to this point. The Browns organization were confident that Shurmur was ready to be a good coach, but he has handled the team tremendously well. Players respect the man and the roster has been impressed with his organizational skills, preparation and teaching, along with people skills and their on-field improvement.
* One obvious difference between the Browns of 2011 and those of the past few years is the manner which with players are dealt. Not only on a player-to-coach level, but on a personal level as well. You didn't get that under the last guy much. Within the organization there is sense of a calm, not pressure and intimidation, as had been under former head coach Eric Mangini.
* QB Colt McCoy is continuing to develop and gain familiarity within Shurmur's WCO scheme. At this point, the organization couldn't be happier with the way the young man prepares and absorbs information. McCoy was one of two QB's that Holmgren believed could develop into an excellent player at the professional level from the 2010 college player draft (the other being the first player selected in the draft, QB Sam Bradford).
McCoy's experience a season ago was a positive, despite playing in an offensive scheme that was far from QB-friendly. Battling through injury and a scheme which did give him freedom to work, McCoy still gained valuable experience - specifically in adjusting to the speed of the game.
* When WR Mohamed Massaquoi reported to training camp with a lower leg injury, the Browns were more than a little unhappy with the development. This is one issue every team had when players were holding practice sessions during the lock-out. The team was already dealing with not having a proven playmaker at receiver, had to get through positional players having to learn a new offensive system. Massaquoi's injury has set back the team, as well as the player.
* Injuries and questionable upper-tier talent leave this WR unit without difference makers. Rookie Greg Little has garnered plenty of opportunities in training camp. Despite some rough moments (concentration lapses, mostly), Little has displayed the skill-set the Browns had hoped to see when he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft.
Little sports a big body, quickness and better speed than previously believed from watching the young man run. What impresses with him so far is his understanding route-running at the professional level. This is critical. Little has worked diligently and has enhanced his route running skills. There's been improved hand-fighting off the line, and he's gotten better at positioning himself between the ball and defender.
* As training camp snapped into full-speed-ahead mode, there was a lot of speculation regarding the status of second-year RB Montario Hardesty. The organization was mum on his status and the player wasn't speaking to the media. The speculation largely centered on the idea that Hardesty had re-injured his knee.
Come to find out, Hardesty hadn't suffered another injury, but rather the Browns were being extremely cautious with the player... another serious knee injury could be his last.
Not wanting to rush Hardesty coming off surgery, the organization believed having him continue to work in the weight room and with team trainers to get his body and knees in the best physical condition they could possibly be.
Hardesty has looked somewhat average in early practice sessions, and was tentative on his first day in uniform. In the passing days, Hardesty has shown some glimpses of the power and quickness the scouting department saw prior to selecting him in the 2010 draft.
* As much as KR/WR Josh Cribbs didn't look like a WR a season ago with the offensively-challenged Browns, his athletic prowess is being shown to much better effect in the WCO offense. The scheme utilizes Cribbs more on quick slants and go routes, looking to get the ball into his hands to utilize his running ability.
With Cribbs' growth in the offensive scheme, the Browns would like to keep him fresh for offensive downs and remove him from the return game. Cribbs would like to remain in each role, buts the Browns have spent time in training camp practice and preseason games evaluating Jordan Norwood and Buster Skrine.
* The coaching staff has been pleasantly surprised with the right side of the offensive line, where second-year lineman Shawn Lauvao and veteran Tony Pashos take up residence. One area the staff is concerned is at LG, as veteran Eric Steinbach has been hampered by injuries to his knee and back.
Depth along the lines is a concern, as is the situation at linebacker and defensive backs. It wouldn't be surprising to see the organization look at a the waiver wire on cutdown day to determine whether talent is available.
I'll be back soon... been saving up the buzz... FOOTBALL!! DOUGHNUTS!! It's good to be back.V